Last Will and Testaments of WWI Soldiers published online

Published: 04/01/2013

The Last Will and Testaments of 9000 Irish World War One soldiers have been published online by the Republic’s National Archives.

Many of the Wills were written in a page in their pocket service books and placed in their uniform. One of the Wills published was Belfast man James Delaney who left all his possessions to his wife.

“His Will was quite sad,” comments archivist Hazel Menton, “in that someone has written it for him, and he signed it with an X because he could not read or write. He is unusual in that he was aged 48, a married man with five children, he was Catholic and a labourer.”

Speaking about a letter by another soldier, James Purvis, Ms Menton describes of his detachment from the situation:

“There’s very little sentimentality, there’s no expression of the fact that he might die, and it’s all his preparations and excitement of going off to war.”

This letter demonstrates that, even in the most dangerous of situations, no one wishes to consider their own mortality. It is for this reason that so many of us continue to put off making a Will and yet it is so important in order to ensure our loved ones are provided for. Many people do not appreciate that without a Will loved ones, including partners, children and grandchildren, can be left vulnerable and may not inherit what they would expect or want.

At a time of year where many people are making the new years’ resolution to spend more time with family and friends, now is the perfect time to ensure that those we care most about remain protected and provided for whatever happens.

Content correct at time of publication

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